Cuts in job-training squeeze work force City, Balto. County face biggest reductions

June 14, 1996|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Democrats and Republicans may well agree that job retraining and employment search skills are vital for helping America's downsized work force remain self-supporting.

But don't tell that to Azra Burney or John Reischick.

The two Baltimore County workers' positions in employment training are slated for elimination July 1 because of a congressional budget agreement that will cut 30 percent of the county's federal job-training money.

Nationally, the cuts in job training amount to $277 million, with Maryland losing about $8 million in the 1997 fiscal year that begins July 1 -- roughly 25 percent of the state's share, according to Gary L. Moore, spokesman for the state Office of Employment Services and Training. Most of that, close to $5 million, will come from Baltimore and Baltimore County, officials said.

"Our programs are seen as social programs by the Republican leadership," said John M. Wasilisin, director of the county Office of Employment and Training. "It was an easy target. You don't see dislocated workers lobbying Congress or marching in Washington," he said.

Wasilisin said 26 of the 71 jobs in his agency are being lost to the federal cut.

Moore said that Anne Arundel County will lose funding for 10 jobs, and 10 more will be cut in Howard and Carroll counties combined. Harford and Cecil counties together will lose four or five positions.

Baltimore, which gets more job-training money than any other Maryland jurisdiction -- $10.6 million -- is losing 25 percent of its funds, but has not made a decision on layoffs, said Gail Woods, spokeswoman for the Mayor's Office of Employment Development. She said other federal grants to the city will carry the programs through late August.

The elimination of her job was a particularly tough blow for Burney, who was hired in 1990 after being retrained by one of the federally funded county programs. "I am disappointed and saddened," said the 50-year-old Pakistan native and mother of two college students. "It's a blow."

She, along with most of those displaced by the cuts, is in line for other Baltimore County jobs -- but not in the county employment agency.

Reischick, 36, a former Roman Catholic priest supporting a wife pTC and infant daughter, said he worried for five months about the security of his $30,000-a-year job before learning that his position -- and those of eight other workers -- will be shifted to the county Department of Social Services next month.

Reischick screens applicants for job-retraining programs and works with young single mothers in Essex's Young Parent Support Center as part of Project Independence, a welfare-to-work program. Wasilisin said the result of the cutbacks will be less service for displaced workers seeking help. He said that instead of a series of one-on-one counseling sessions, displaced workers at the county's Re-Employment Assistance Center in Towson will get more group counseling.

Pub Date: 6/14/96

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